Looking back on all the anticipation I had for the teeter-totter… what a bust! The horses weren’t significantly challenged by it. With each horse I was the first one on the teeter-totter. I walked along it in both directions. I stopped. I teetered. I stopped again. I backed up. I stepped off it. Sherlock taught me decades ago, “Women and children first” when things got a bit challenging from where he stood. I figured I’d extend the same courtesy to his many friends.
Young Bucephalus ate a carrot piece (or two) off of the teeter-totter. He invented walking across it (from side to side). No histrionics, just preferred a short span of wood. I introduced him to the structure for a few seconds at a time, then led him to something else in the arena that he liked to play with. After ten minutes he was walking from one end to the other (in both directions) with a halter and leadline on.
Kye is a Quarter Horse/Appaloosa and we’ve learned over the years that often the Appy has a vision issue. Kye is not an exception. Even though he’s stepped up on our pedestals hundreds of times, he still approaches them each day with great caution. The teeter-totter loomed long and wooden. Kye deftly side-stepped it. I put pieces of carrot on the teeter-totter and Kye took a new interest in the horse-eating monster. He, too, thought stepping over it width-wise was an excellent idea. And, within a few minutes he walked from one end to the other, stopped in the middle, backed up, ate carrots, relaxed.
I turned Zeloso loose in the arena and he instantly spotted the new apparatus. Before I could do the “women and children first” thing he walked up to it and placed a hoof on it. The teeter-totter moved. He backed up, stopped and stared at it. He watched me dance around on the wood, then joined me. He quite liked the up and down movement.
Zelador needed no help from any mere mortal. I walked beside the teeter-totter, pointed to it and he followed my pointing finger as it led him over the wood.
Christi came today to ride Zeloso, again! When the vet came last week to give the annual shots she solved the, “What are those round circles just in front of Zeloso’s croup?” mystery. Turns out they’re FAT! We’ve launched a vigorous campaign to whip that Lusitano into shape BEFORE the luscious spring grass arrives.
On Wednesday we hacked to Ann McLean’s farm. Christi rode Zeloso and I rode Zelador. This is the first time the boys have ventured out on the 15th Sideroad beyond our farm and house driveways. Zelador boldly took the lead. Zeloso was huffing and puffing behind us. We broke Kye and Sherlock’s world record of 20 minutes (got there in 17) just walking. Zelador considered spooking twice. Both times he lowered his entire body about one-half inch… ready to leave. Both times he recovered and continued walking. At one point a neighbor called from her balcony. Both boys had a brief terrifying thought (noise? Above us? Could there be a mountain lion perched in a tree?) The fear passed in a heart beat.
On Ann’s farm the boys had two more challenges: one was a large boulder at a bridge. The bridge was a non-issue because it’s so big and is paved. The boulder received a solid look from Zelador. The second and biggest question was the entrance to the arena. There are two large doors. One was open. The other was closed. The closed one has glass windows in the upper half and both boys saw two grey horses walking towards them. They stopped. Ann and Ciara noticed our arrival from the far end of the arena and came to rescue us. While they were approaching Christi and I took turns letting the Lusitanos check out the door. Zeloso pretended to be incredibly brave, but was very careful to NEVER move even an inch closer to the door than Zelador had been. Once Ann and Ciara opened the second door and walked through it the boys sauntered into the arena as if nothing had worried them.
On the hack home they met their first man on a bicycle… resplendent in a LARGE bright yellow slicker. The man was a saint. He got off the bike, talked reassuringly to the horses, waited ’till we were well past him, then quietly rode away.
Back to today… I free-longed Zelador while Christi rode Zeloso. A friend was visiting and wanted to see the boys. Zelador was a star. Even though his brother was cantering around, sometimes mere feet from him, he was able to pay attention to me and do his tricks. I’ve been consistently asking for the Spanish Walk at liberty after Zelador backs up. Today Zelador produced a spectacular leg lift on both front legs from the first step. Usually it takes a few steps to get both legs equal.
Christi commented that they would never ride a horse in her arena with other horses free in it. I pointed out that the first time we did this with Zelador free Bill was riding Zeloso and he carried a whip. When Zelador went over to his brother to play, Bill said, “No” and pointed the whip at him. It took one or two more “No”s and Zelador decided to leave his brother alone.
When Christi finished riding Zeloso we free-jumped Zelador. He obviously loves doing this. Zeloso was quite content to stand placidly on a pedestal.
At the end of the session Christi suggested we put wooden slats for traction along the teeter-totter. Sort of like the slats on the steep ramp at the Royal Winter Fair. This is a great idea. We’d been leaning towards putting a rubber matt on the surface, but that wouldn’t help hooves that were slipping. Another bonus to the slats is there are horse trailer ramps with slats on them.